SMNYC 2024: Bedrock CEO Jonas Engwall Talks Pan-European Streaming Platform Growth

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At Streaming Media NYC 2024, Tim Siglin, Founding Executive Director, Help Me Stream Research Foundation, and Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, sits down for an exclusive interview with Jonas Engwall, CEO, Bedrock. Engwall discusses their new M6+ platform, which features short-form content in a vertical form, podcasts, and advanced AI search. Engwall also talks about how Bedrock aims to help stakeholders pivot into the streaming world, offering a platform that can be tailored to different countries and partners' needs.

Siglin asks Engwall to describe Bedrock. “Bedrock is, I would argue, the leading streaming tech company in Europe,” Engwall says. "Think of it as a European BAMTECH.” He further explains that it is a joint venture with Europe's RTL Group and France’s M6. They run their streaming platform in five countries, with 400 team members across 10 countries.

The exciting benefits of Bedrock’s new M6+ platform

Engwall discusses Bedrock’s new M6+ platform, which replaces their previous brand, 6play. “It is a complete platform overhaul. It's really exciting,” he says. To provide further context about its new advantages, he explains that previous 6play subscribers were limited to accessing it on certain devices via an Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD) model, and if trying to access via a smart TV, a user needed to be a Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) subscriber.

“Now, with M6+, all those devices are available through an AVOD. You can also do it via SVOD if you prefer,” he says. “The whole platform is a massive upgrade from a user perspective, with lots of cool new types of content and features. For example, short-form content in a vertical form is turning out to be a real success. We have a podcast on there, which is pretty innovative for most of Europe. We have lots of cool social features and interactivity with the users depending on the content, including very advanced AI search, which is not launched yet, but coming very soon, [plus] availability in cars.”

Why Bedrock emphasises streaming at a European scale to succeed

Siglin asks Engwall, “From a workflow perspective, when you're working with companies outside of your basic stakeholders, where do you fit into their workflow, and how do you enhance their workflow?”

“It's worthwhile mentioning that we are not a tech vendor,” Engwall says. “We are a strategic partner in streaming. Basically, our mission is to take all those stakeholders and help them to pivot into the streaming world. And we do this in a slightly different way from others. First of all, you need scale if you want to succeed in the streaming world. I think everyone knows that by now. It's really difficult to reach scale, certainly in any European country from the get-go. Back in 2019, when Bedrock was founded in its current shape, we basically said, ‘Look, we believe that you need a European scale to succeed.’ We have a platform that looks and operates totally differently in different countries depending on the partner's needs and what they want to do. However, under the hood, so to speak, it's one of the same platform. And that is how we create scale, but at the same time, deliver something that looks and feels totally different.”

Siglin says, “So to a certain extent, it's almost like you're white labeling an underlying technology out to skin it to whatever a particular organization needs.”

Engwall says that it works closely with all of its partners and stakeholders. “We have a product board [that meets] once every two months. So why do we do this? One reason is all of those stakeholders. First of all, we only operate with leading media companies who really take streaming seriously. Together, we all look at the future and define where the product and the roadmap are going. And this is pretty unique. At the same time, you have these leading local streaming players around the table. They all share what they learn. So it's not just about tech. Obviously, the tech is really important, but they're also sharing and learning from each other. We're all trying to figure this out together. And it's really interesting because all of those players today, they're more or less on hybrid platforms, meaning a mixture of SVOD and AVOD, but they tend to come from different experiences.”

How Bedrock manages data center relationships with pan-European CDNs

Siglin asks Engwall, “So with this pan-European model, and because you're focused on streaming, would you also manage the data center relationships with pan-European CDNs, or would that be your stakeholders' responsibility to set up the legalities there with the CDN itself?”

Engwall says that Bedrock is a very comprehensive streaming solution. “We have multiple CDN partners, we have our own CDN, and we will basically push traffic where it makes more sense,” he says. “But our whole philosophy is to not burden our partners with all of the quite tricky issues around tech and streaming. However, we want to give them a very flexible solution. We want them to focus their effort on what makes them unique, and we will deal with the rest. So it’s a very flexible approach, but at the same time, a holistic streaming solution.”

What’s next for Bedrock?

Siglin asks Engwall what’s coming up for them over the next year.

“I can't give you the specifics, but we have some pretty good news and big news coming up,” Engwall says. “There's a lot of people interested in Bedrock. Frankly, it's a good problem to have. But we will continue to expand. Our mission is very simply put: we want to deliver streaming platforms to our partners that are on par or better [than the] global players so that they can compete with their local and very strong content, but on a platform that is as equal or better than the global giants. And that mission is not going to change. We continue to roll out features, improve the platform, and onboard new partners.”

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